The GB and Swiss women’s teams have come into EBUC with completely new rosters following the 2017 World Championships of Beach Ultimate in Royan. Only one player across the two teams, Sarina Schenk (SUI), was present at worlds where GB took a bronze medal and Switzerland finished sixth place. Facing each other after having only played once so far at EBUC, it was difficult to make clear predictions about how the game would play out. Yesterday, Great Britain beat Currier Island 10-3 whilst the Swiss lost to Denmark 13-4. Some might suggest the odds lay in GB’s favour. Yet, these scores barely reflected the battle that took place between GB and Switzerland this afternoon.
This game would be best described as a game of two speeds. The Swiss used fast breaks at every opportunity, gaining yards quickly after turnovers whilst the British preferred to set up their peppermill and play a safe game, taking the open throws, swinging it between their handlers and waiting for the right time to pounce. This made for a very visually interesting game.
The first point lasted some time. The pressure on both teams seemed to get the better of them at times; both sides were forcing miscalculated throws from the other team. From the offset, it was clear that the Swiss favoured two things; up the lines and hucks into the endzone, usually one after the other. However, the connection between throwers and receivers wasn’t quite there at the beginning of the game and after some turnovers, Great Britain’s Hannah Yorwerth snatched the first point.
After this point, both teams seemed to get into the swing of things. The Swiss were hungry to equalise, and GB tried their best to deny this aim. The Swiss handler pair Schenk and Keller worked particularly well throughout the game. Keller would pick up, throw up the line to Shcenk, who’d swing it back to Keller and run for the endzone. In this fashion, the Swiss scored their first point.
The following two points were also taken by the Swiss. Their defence was strong; they used zone chases on GB’s handlers, clogging the open channels and forcing them towards the middle, whilst the remaining defenders tightly man marked down field. GB’s handlers were patient, swinging it between themselves, slowly working their way up the pitch, but initially struggled to break through the middle of the zone force. Once the score reached 1-3, however, GB were ready to take the lead back. The Swiss chases were starting to tire, and GB handlers were able to make great yardage passing between themselves. The swings were sent so far forward that both handlers laid out during this point to catch each other’s throws before assisting Yorwerth in scoring her second point.
After some more points were traded, within which Rebecca Bullingham threw some pinpoint long shots and the Swiss demonstrated a seamlessly rapid offence with particularly strong connections between Keller, Scheck and Diener, the score line reached 5-5.
This was when GB began to take control of the game. Using their peppermill offence, they made great space upfield giving their handlers consistent long and short options in the middle of the pitch. Their dominance forced the Swiss to return to tight person on GB’s handlers as GB shot three points up. A highlight was Fiona Rae’s tremendous roll curve backhand to Tiffany Anderson to score GB’s sixth point just after she’d managed a massive block on a Swiss endzone play.
The score was 7-5 when time ran out. GB scored making it a game to nine, but the match was far from over. The Swiss weren’t going to give the win up so easily. Their energy raised tenfold during this point and Schenk scored a layout clap catch in the endzone making the score 8-6, putting the pressure on for the British. Then, Isabella Barber-Lowell almost scored for GB after a flick from Ava Grossman, GB captain, but she didn’t quite make it. The Swiss took this opportunity send it to the other end and score. Hearts raced as the Swiss scored again, taking what could have been a quick win for GB to universe point.
In the final point GB adopted a weave offence, taking the Swiss by surprise. The Swiss managed a block on the first GB throw after a contested stall out. Anderson however, wouldn’t let them take the disc close to their endzone. She managed a quick hand block on the mark and safely moved the disc downfield, where Grossman threw her a short pass to win the game.
Speaking to Grossman after the game, she tells me, ‘Only three people [on the team] have ever played for GB before so we’re just really proud that we can bring it to a national team and keep our composure the whole game. There were so many individual great moments that as a captain, I am so proud of. Sudden death is such a terrifying experience at this level, and everybody just nailed it.’
Both teams fought it out until the end, and it seems either team were strong enough to take the win. Perhaps if the Swiss had reverted to man defence sooner, the score line would have been different. Regardless, the Swiss and British were an excellent match up for each other and it would be great to see these two teams battle again in Portimao.